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How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay – a Refresher Course

September 25, 2015 - Posted to Catchy Research Paper Topics

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How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay – a Refresher Course

The 5-paragraph essay was the first type of essay you ever wrote – probably back in middle school. The topics were simple and the structure was very fixed – an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. As you got into high school, writing a 5-paragraph essay gave way to longer essays, many of which dealt with more complex topics that couldn’t be handled with that structure. Essays by that time consisted of a number of body paragraphs and often the need for research in order to have the information and data necessary to make your points.

So, it might be a challenge to return to the 5-paragraph format once again, although there will be times when you will need to, even in college essay assignments. Let’s look at an example:

Example of How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay

Suppose you have been tasked with writing a persuasive essay that is confined to 5 paragraphs. You have a choice of topics. You have several steps to complete:

  1. Choosing a topic and a thesis. Is there an issue about which you have really strong feelings? Maybe LGBT rights? Maybe the need to reform student loan debt? Maybe ways to reverse the huge income gap that is growing? Maybe the need to reform higher education? Only you can determine an issue about which you have a passion. Select a topic that really means something to you and then develop your thesis statement. For example, “Student loan debt is out of control and threatens the economic future of our country.”
  2. Do research if necessary. You may have strong feelings about student loan debt, but they are meaningless without the facts and figures to back up those feelings. Writing an essay that is persuasive must be supported by evidence.
  3. Isolate Your Arguments. Once your research is complete, you will need to identify the three strongest arguments that support your position. Why? Because you only have three body paragraphs to work with, and so you only have three arguments that you can use.
  4. Develop Your Outline. Your outline will be very simple and standard and need not be really formal. It might look something like this:


  1. Introduction: Topic is student loan debt; Thesis is that real reform is needed if we are to prevent a major economic crisis in the future.
  2. Body
  1. Point One: Student loan debt is preventing young adults from making major purchases such as homes and cars. This will impact the entire economy.
  2. Point Two: Student loan debt is causing young adults to delay marriage and family. This will result in fewer children being born of parents who value education and who will see to it that their kids are educated for a workforce we will need in the future
  3. Point Three: The prospect of student loan debt is keeping many bright and capable student from going to college at all. We will not be globally competitive if our best and brightest do not have college educations.
  1. Conclusion: What’s your solution?

The Rest is a Matter of Composition and Style

Now that you know how to write a 5-paragraph essay, you need to focus on the actual composition of the piece. Remember that there are basic of academic writing that you cannot ignore:

  1. Each point must have evidence you have gathered from your research. Be sure that you cite that research properly.
  2. Remember the basics of writing paragraphs. Each must have a topic sentence, supporting detail, and a good transition sentence to the next paragraph.
  3. Your conclusion should have a good call to action, if you are writing a persuasive essay.

There you have it – your refresher course in the 5-paragraph essay. You are now ready to write them!

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